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19 Aug 2010

Marley and Me

Marley And Me. Life and love with the world's worst dog. Straight on the shelf of my all-time favourite books.

This is not a book review, although God knows it's a must read for everyone, dog lovers and others alike. It adds to life's beautiful memories!

John Grogan has amazing writing skills. In Marley And Me, he brings his story to life, right in front of your eyes. I never felt like I was reading a book, I was watching it unfold before me. I know, for a fact, that I could neer watch the movie and feel the same, no matter how well it might have been made.

As I turned every page, I laughed at Marley's antics, stressed when the family went out leaving him alone at home, hated it when they put him in a kennel to go on vacations, love the walks he took, felt embarassed when he ran off with the table at the alfresco dining (all to sniff a poodle's genitalia). I could feel myself stiffen as Grogan described Marley stepping into the threshold of old age. Each time he discovered a failing function in Marley, I sensed something heavy in my heart. Why was this happening?

The Grogans lived an ordinary life. There was not a single incident in the book that was unusual or special, unless Marley was involved. Yet, not at one line did I get bored. I could read on and on, as Grogan talked of Marley's life year after year. I'm sure he has lots of funny, crazy and tearful memories stocked up, enough to fill another half a dozen books if he wished. I don't know if he picked the best of them or just wrote with the flow of the moment. It is most likely the latter.

Many times, as I read, I remembered my own first dog Sonu. He was no competition to Marley as far as being the world's worst dog went. No doubt he might have been a frequent visitor at the club, though. We loved him to bits, bossy and all. He was definitely the alpha male in the family. He refused to learn lessons he didn't want to. In some ways, there was a stark difference between him and Marley. He was disciplined and as he grew up, he was less and less a puppy. Devoted, no doubt. He understood the moods of people

When I read the bit about Marley comforting Jenny during one of her difficult pregnancies, it tugged at my heart. The warmest memories I have, of Sonu, are those times when he was just there for me, comforting me, always understanding. That's what I've missed most over the years. I still carry a picture of him, wherever 'home' is, for me. The decision to put him down was the hardest ever and he saved us the trouble by simply giving himself up. It hurt.

The last few pages of the book drove so close to home that I couldn't put down the book until I'd read to the last line. I didn't have a laptop at the time of writing this blog, so I wrote on paper, scribbling as furiously as my thoughts flew. I had to write. It is my tribute to Marley. And Sonu.

Reading Marley And Me makes me miss my own 11-year old back home. Pangs of guilt strike, as I think of my decision to leave her behind and chase after new experiences. She is a part labrador too but one of the most well-behaved dog I have ever had. Her obsession for food is no less than Marley's but she has none of the loony behaviour. The arthritis. The 'Mary's little lamb' act. Check. Check.

As the husband and I go through the same phase as John & Jenny, watching our 11-year old puppy in her retirement years, I notice how she too has her bad days when she needs help to get on the stairs and lots of good days when we wonder if she is really that old. Gone are those days when we tried to get her off our bed and sleep on hers in the lounge. Now, we hug her if she can leap onto it or get off by herself. Sometimes, she manages the leap but the jump down gives her the jitters. Not without reason, it is painful on her bones. How many times hasn't she collapsed when her hips gave way, trying to climb the stairs? Yet, we know that she has some more time to go. A few years, at least. Her eyes and ears, every other sense is as sharp as ever. She is still a puppy in so many ways.

Her name is Lucky. What a coincidence that Marley's story ends with the Grogans looking at an ad for a labrador retriever named Lucky too. As notorious as Marley was, probably?

I wonder what Xigris and George are up to. I wish I could cuddle them just now. On the other hand, what wouldn't I give to have Lucky sniffing around the house, fussing for food, right here with me?

Dogs. They make life so beautiful!

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